Nationals Arm Race

"… the reason you win or lose is darn near always the same – pitching.” — Earl Weaver

Is the Matt Stairs experiment over?


Matt Stairs swings and misses at another fastball. Photo: Getty Images via

Lost in the shuffle of Friday’s offensive explosion in Baltimore was this line: Matt Stairs: 0-4, 2 strikeouts and 5 runners left on base hitting in the #5 hole.  The coup-de-grace for me was the inexplicable bases-loaded strikeout he had in the 4th, letting a perfect down-the-middle fastball pass right by him to end the inning.

That at-bat disgusted me.  It isn’t the first time we’ve seen Stairs let a pitch go by that he clearly was guessing otherwise on, and in the end of course the at bat didn’t matter, but its indicative of where he is now as a hitter.  On fastball counts, he’s guessing otherwise and letting pitches go by without even an offering in high-leverage situations.  But for me, if you have 2 strikes you’re not trying to hit home runs; you’re trying to put the ball in play.  It seems to me that his skills as a hitter have declined to the point where he’s depending more on guess work than his former hitting prowness to succeed at the plate.

Meanwhile, every other player in the lineup was mashing Baltimore pitching last night (well, except for Adam LaRoche, but that’s a different contract, a different defensive player, and a different story).  Our 7-8-9 hitters were 8-13 (eight hits out of the bottom three!).

I think its time to end the experiment.  For the season (as of 5/20) Stairs is 2 for 26 with no extra base hits.  He has a NEGATIVE OPS+, meaning that he’s hitting roughly 100% worse than an average major league player.  He has no defensive value and can’t pinch run when needed.  I think we need to bring up someone else from AAA.

Michael Aubrey didn’t have the worst numbers the last time he played in the majors (Baltimore in 2009), is also a lefty, can play first base if needed and (if you believe his profile’d height/weight of 6’0″ 190lbs) should be able to run the bases if needed.  We have a 40-man spot open with the DFA of Broderick and we could make this move immediately as a like-for-like replacement for Stairs.  If you didn’t want to add a guy to the roster, you could also just call up Chris Marrero, who doesn’t quite have Aubrey’s power but is hitting consistently in AAA and had 18 homers in AA last year.  Marrero could be a righty bat off the bench coupled with Ankiel’s lefty bat as a 4th outfielder/bat off the bench as well.

Either way, I think its time to make a change.

Written by Todd Boss

May 21st, 2011 at 10:59 am

7 Responses to 'Is the Matt Stairs experiment over?'

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  1. It’s WAY beyond time to make a change. Stairs never should have made the active roster in the first place. That we burned Bernadina’s last option to keep the decrepit old corpse on the squad is mind-boggling. If batting below .200 is to be below the Mendoza line, what is batting below .100, the double-secret probation Mendoza line?


    21 May 11 at 11:07 am

  2. When is Ankiel coming off the DL? That should tell us a lot.

    Mark L

    21 May 11 at 3:54 pm

  3. He was put on the DL 5/7, retroactive to 5/3, meaning he’s already eligible to come off. Last i read he was doing drills and what not in extended spring. I think Bernadina’s success has made it less important to run him back into the lineup, so it may be a bit.

    Todd Boss

    22 May 11 at 10:31 am

  4. It’s definitely time. Stairs is dead weight at this point. We can’t afford to have him taking up a roster spot. I’m not sure we ever could.

    David R

    23 May 11 at 8:46 am

  5. […] My answer is pretty clear: No, we should DFA him right now and bring up either Marrero or Aubrey from AAA to give the team a […]

  6. […] of having Matt Stairs around.  I’ve talked at length about this point at various times in the past on this blog.  (Boswell agrees … says that he “looks awful,” but later on asks why […]

  7. […] been advocating for the release of Matt Stairs for well over a month now, having posted in this space in May questioning the inclusion of Stairs on this roster.  In the month since, Stairs has […]

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